As we established with yesterday’s post, we desperately crave refreshing contentment. Hannah Hurnard offers up the three steps that lead to real love and contentment: humility, giving and service. So we’re going to spend today talking about step one, humility.
Hannah is not referring to the abstract (to us) idea of applying this concept on the mission field or in a fanciful allegory. Rather, we can act out humility, giving and service in our own families, local churches, offices…
“The first characteristic of love is humility: the pouring of oneself down lower and lower in self effacement and self-denial. The message of running water always is, “Go lower. Find the lowest place. That is the only way to true fulfillment.”
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
Could we apply this concept with our families? According to Philippians, I may have to consider my children better than myself. My children? I am their parent. I am an authority over them. They are required by the Ten Commandments to obey me. How can I consider them better than me?
My duty as a parent is to nurture, to protect and to train. I would gladly step in front of a bus to save my child, so why should I also not gladly sacrifice my own comfort by playing with them instead of checking in on Facebook? Why should I not gladly sacrifice my cleanliness by cleaning up his poo? Why should I not sacrifice my desire to hurry by training my child to tie his own shoes? Why should I not sacrifice my desire for peace and quiet to discipline my child for willful defiance?
I thought my children, just by their very nature, had knocked all the selfishness right out of me, but they didn’t (even though they try). It is daily struggle to set me aside and live for someone else.
And then there’s considering my husband better than myself. Really? He’s GOOD. Great even. But better? Getting up and going to work every single day to provide for his family. Coming home to a crazed wife and hyper children only to have to fix the sink and build a deck and repair three tiny broken toys is pretty impressive. But better than me? Better than what I do all day? Consider the poo…
The Bible has a few words about this relationship as well.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
Ah. You see? All one. Men and women are equal in the eyes of God, so considering my husband better than myself is a moot point. Clearly, my spouse is exempt. Whew.
It’s true. As men and women, we are considered on equal footing in the eyes of God. BUT…
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives. 1 Peter 3:1
When, as a Christian woman, I made marriage vows to my husband, I bound myself to him and relinquished my right to equality. I agreed, before God, to LOVE him. God set up a system for a peaceful home which He outlines more than once in the New Testament. The system requires a clear definition of roles, and my roll is to serve my husband as if I were serving the Lord Jesus himself.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16
When I look out for myself rather than humbly giving my time and energy up to my family, disorder reigns supreme. We’ve all seen it happen in real life. Maybe it’s a great novel, Facebook, or a phone conversation that motivates us to try and put life on hold so we can finish. Life combusts around us even as we take a moment to ourselves.
You are in the room when your child takes the opportunity to sneak gum from your purse leaving the contents scattered across the living room floor. The other child is soooo thirsty he will perish, so he gets a drink himself and ends up with sticky juice all over the kitchen floor. Your husband is trying to call you to tell you a buddy of his is coming over to pick up a tool so you will have time to a) find it for him and b) put on a bra, but you ignore the call--I’ll call back in two minutes--only to find his pal on the doorstep a minute later. Did I mention the macaroni and cheese pot boiling over?
Maybe this only happens in my house. I have noticed though that it doesn’t happen when I am present with my family. It only happens when I am here physically and am mentally on a hiatus.
I came across this on the wonderful world wide web a moment ago, by Beth Moore: “Here’s the big lie: Satan has convinced us that laying down our self-stuff is some huge sacrifice. Oh, beloved, what deception! Our self-stuff is what makes us most miserable! What an albatross our self-absorption is. I cannot stress strongly enough that getting over the self-stuff is a daily challenge. As long as we inhabit this tent of flesh, it will rise up in us. We must choose to “deny [ourselves] and take up [our] cross daily” (Luke 9:23).”
Tomorrow: Give and Give and Give.